Today’s news about reining in the pharmaceutical industry is upbeat: “Senate Approves Tighter Policing of Drug Makers” and “OxyContin Maker Expected to Plead Guilty Today” are the headlines.
The new law would require the FDA, beyond approving new prescription drugs before they go on sale, to track adverse effects and analyze data on tens of millions of patients, looking for signs of serious risks.
Politicians of both parties are congratulating themselves, and even the lobbyists are happy. Why? It might have something to do with what’s not in the final bill: a provision to allow importing lower-priced drugs from Canada and restrictions on advertising to consumers with TV commercials that promise miracles and end with speed-talk about adverse effects.
In the OxyContin case, after earning $2.8 billion, the company will pay $600 million in fines for “misbranding” a product with aggressive promotion that led to widespread abuse and addiction.
Meanwhile, we can keep paying extortionate prices for our prescriptions and watching those commercials about happy, horny white-haired couples enjoying their highs.